President of Pan-African Parliament Calls for Urgent Action to Prevent Mass Suicides and Refugees Escaping Conflict Zones: Religious and Political Leaders Must Take Responsibility!

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Chief Fortune Charumbira at Conference on Interfaith Dialogue in Marrakesh, Morocco.

In a passionate speech delivered yesterday at the Conference on Interfaith Dialogue in Marrakesh, Morocco, Hon. Senator Chief Fortune Charumbira, the President of the Pan-African Parliament, called for urgent action to prevent cult-related mass suicides and refugees escaping conflict zones. Hon. Chief Charumbira served the delegates a powerful reminder of the importance of practical action and collaboration solving challenges facing Africa including poverty, conflicts, climate change, terrorism, unemployment, migration, energy insecurity, and hunger. Challenges which he said necessitate collective efforts, transcending religious and political affiliations.

Chief Charumbira substantiated the urgency of the conference by providing real-life examples. He narrated his encounter with over Sudanese refugees on his way to Marrakesh, who were escaping the tragic armed conflict in Sudan. “From our flight from Kigali to Istanbul Turkey, we travelled with over 20 Sudanese refugees who were being assisted by the IOM to relocate to temporary safe habor because they’re running away from the armed conflict in Sudan. That conflict has claimed over 100,000 lives and displaced over 1.5 million people,” lamented the PAP President. He expressed the need for responsible use of political influence to prevent conflicts that result in the displacement and suffering of innocent lives.

Civilians who fled the war-torn Sudan following the outbreak of fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) walk at the Joda South border point, in Renk County, Upper Nile state, South Sudan April 30, 2023. REUTERS/Jok Solomun

Furthermore, the President shed light on the cult-related mass suicides that have occurred in Kenya, Uganda and USA. Narrating the recent horrific incident in Kenya he said, “In the month of April, this year, the African continent and Kenya in particular awoke the shocking news that at least 221 dead bodies had been found at a ranch of a pastor in Kenya who allegedly told his followers to starve themselves to death to meet Jesus. A former deputy preacher of the cult told the New York Times that children were ordered fast in the sun so they would die faster.”

Ezekiel Odero (in white garment) , the head of the New Life Prayer Centre and Church arrested on criminal charges related to the mass killing of his followers. Image from The Guardian

Hon. Chief Charumbira gave these examples to underscore the significant influence of religious leaders and the imperative role of parliaments in upholding human rights and countering crimes committed by religious leaders in the name of faith. “Religious leaders also wield an influence comparable to political actors moreso with the growing prominence of the ‘Man of God’ some of whom have been elevated to the status of deities. We thus have a collective responsibility to leverage on our influence to inform, educate and raise awareness among our people on the importance of tolerance, inclusivity and collaboration and thus transform our societies into peaceful, tolerant and inclusive societies”, said the PAP President.

The President concluded his speech by calling for self-reflection and personal responsibility among politicians and religious leaders. Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, he emphasized that change begins with each individual and urged opinion leaders to promote tolerance, peace, and inclusivity in their communities.

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